The junior criminal bar supports continued action on AGFS
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We the undersigned are some of the most junior barristers who practice either wholly or mainly in criminal law.
- There are far fewer of us than there once were. This is because there is already a recruitment crisis at the criminal bar. None of us decided to practice criminal law for the money, we work long hours for inadequate remuneration. Many of us are in debt due to the significant fees required to qualify as a criminal barrister, and many of us cannot see a future at the criminal bar.
- We are grateful to the leadership of the CBA for its work in negotiation with the government regarding the AGFS reforms, however we are not minded to support a return to work under the new fees structure, regardless of the offer recently made.
- Some, though far from all, of those more senior than us at the criminal bar suggest we need to accept this offer. Fewer still argue in our name to do so. We understand they do this with the very best of intentions, but please understand we support the action. It is in our best long term interest
- The rates of funding across the criminal justice system is already inadequate. Last week, it is believed that due to insufficient funding the roof of Snaresbrook Crown Court collapsed enforcing closure of part if not all of the court. In Isleworth Crown Court, it is believed there was a fire between the cells of two court room due to faulty electrics. This is indicative of the lack of funding across the entire system as a whole.
- The rates paid to the junior bar were unsustainable. The proposed rates under the new AGFS scheme might improve some of our practices in the short term, but we can see they will damage them significantly in the long term. Most members of the junior bar aspire to be instructed in serious and complex criminal cases and the new fee structure does not provide adequate funding for these cases.
- The current offer of additional funding secured by the CBA, does not take into account the initial cuts proposed by the AGFS scheme and therefore as a profession we have not benefitted from pay increases in line with our contemporaries in the public sector, and unlike our contemporaries we do not benefit from a pension scheme, maternity leave, paternity leave, holiday pay or sickness pay.
- We know of, and some of have been involved in, previous action. Each time the bar calls it off and funding remains unsustainable. We must fight for more. The survival of the independent junior criminal bar is on the line. Simply put, our future is on the line.
Please sign if you support our message and vote against the proposals advanced by the CBA.
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